Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said he is running for his old job atop the Democratic Party.
“The dems need organization and focus on the young,” Dean tweeted Thursday. “Need a fifty State strategy and tech rehab. I am in for chairman again.”
Dean served as Democratic National Committee chairman from 2005 to 2009. Donna Brazile is currently serving as interim chairwoman after Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepped down shortly before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Known for his 50-state strategy, Dean enters a possible crowded field of Democrats jockeying to lead their party after Hillary Clinton’s shocking loss in the presidential election Tuesday night.
POLITICO reported earlier Thursday that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is backing Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) in the contest. Ellison was a top surrogate for Sanders during his primary campaign for president. The liberal outside group MoveOn.org also released a statement on Thursday saying the DNC needed to “clean house” and that Ellison would make an excellent chairman.
Also rumored to be in the mix are former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, and New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley.
Retiring Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) have also been mentioned as contenders but it’s unclear if they could win an election for chair given the strong distaste among party members to have another House member run the committee.
The news of Dean’s decision came as a surprise to members of the Democratic party but operatives who worked with him in the past were enthusiastic.
“I think he’d be a great DNC chair. I worked for him after the ’04 election, very similar situation and what he did was revitalize the party,” said Moses Mercado, a former DNC deputy executive director. “He talked about the 50-state strategy that we’ve kind of forgotten, which to his point, I haven’t talked to him since he decided to do this, but this is what he talked about. We’ve got to go to these states. This is exactly what he spoke about 10 years ago. So it’s no surprise to me that he would be great in this position.”
Mercado, asked if Dean’s decision would frighten away other potential candidates, said, “I would think so.”
“Governor Dean is highly respected amongst chairs and DNC members because of the 50 state strategy…he will be formidable in a race for chair,” Jaime Harrison told POLITICO. Asked if he’s running, Harrison responded, “Haha…good question.”
When pressed, Harrison said, “Haven’t foreclosed the thought.”
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